The One Essential Industry Leading Opioid Overdose Deaths

When talking about the opioid epidemic, and more specifically what has caused the terrifying rise in opioid overdoses, the blame often falls on pharmaceutical companies that pushed opioids as safe and nonaddictive, doctors who overprescribed opioids, and drug dealers who offer affordable heroin and now fentanyl to individuals who have become dependent on opioids. One aspect of this crisis that does not often get featured or blamed is the industries that are prone to injury and backbreaking physical labor. Physical labor industries like roofing, maintenance, lawn care, and construction are exponentially more prone to accidents and long-term health issues, therefore setting their employees up to be more frequently in contact with opioids, and risk developing an addiction. A recent CDC blog post shined more light on how the construction industry is one of the top essential industries that is leading in opioid overdose deaths.


Why The Construction Industry Leads In Opioid Overdose Deaths

According to the CDC, the numbers for overdose deaths in the construction industry are shocking. A study conducted from 2011-to 2016 found that construction workers alone were responsible for 15% of workplace overdose deaths, despite only representing 7% of the workforce.

The reason for these high overdose numbers is simple, construction workers are more likely to be injured on the job, and these injuries often lead to doctors prescribing opioids. The CDC found that construction workers have the highest rate of injury out of any profession.

In addition to injuries that occur while on the job site, the difficult physical labor can cause construction workers to develop musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). A musculoskeletal disorder is any condition that affects the function of the bones and muscles. Common MSDs seen in construction workers are arthritis, joint pain, neck pain, and lower back pain. These can be exacerbated by constant work without time for healing and are typically treated with opioids.

Treating chronic pain with opioids is a very quick way for the person who is being treated to become dependent on those opioids and begin to seek more and more opioids to keep the pain at bay, therefore beginning the cycle of opioid abuse.


Systemic Change Is Essential To Protect Construction Workers From Opioids

While work-related injuries seem to simply be an expected part of the job when working in construction, they don’t have to be. The CDC offers some tips for construction companies on how to reduce work-related injuries and help put a stop to construction workers becoming addicted to opioids.

One tip is to provide paid time off for workers who have suffered from an injury, allowing the injury to fully heal and be properly rehabilitated to ensure that returning to work will not exacerbate the problem.

Another tip is to break down the barriers. Construction is an industry that employs many immigrants who may not understand the safety warnings or are unable to communicate their safety concerns to others on the job site. Providing safety information, as well as information on opioid misuse in a variety of languages can help reduce the risk of opioid overdose.

Lastly, the CDC recommends providing resources for pain relief that are non-opioid based. Company-sponsored chiropractic sessions, comprehensive healthcare packages, physical therapy, and regular education and training on opioids can help construction workers feel like they have what they need to be pain-free without opioids.


If your industry has contributed to your opioid dependence, you need to contact Fritz Clinic of Alabama to begin healing from opioids. For over 35 years Fritz has been using medication-assisted treatment, as well as opioid counseling to provide comprehensive care to those who have been suffering from this illness. Begin healing today and contact Fritz Clinic of Alabama.